People, it’s March.
This is awesome. Everything is awesome.
Next week is Las Vegas. The week after that the NCAA Tournament.
But first, the last games of the regular season, and a lot is still at stake.
Arizona fans, you probably should ready yourself for the team to run through the ZonaZoo after Thursday’s game against California, barring an unexpected loss, as the Wildcats would clinch the Pac-12 regular season title.
Oregon has a legitimate shot at finishing second in the Pac-12 — they need to win, and for Utah to lose. Stanford is off the bubble, and fighting to at least get back on it.
This week, though, is mostly important because it’s Senior Week. That is, the final games for all the Pac-12’s seniors.
“It helps a great deal when you have a guy that’s been a part of the program, a part of the league, knows the lay of the land” Cal coach Cuonzo Martin told me on Tuesday. I asked him about David Kravish, but this is more of a general answer.
“He helps you do your job as a coach, makes your job a little bit easier with the transition. If he’s all-in, it helps us do our job.”
For this week’s round-up, I just wanted to run through the notable seniors in the conference this year. It’s become so rare for anyone — at least, anyone good — to last to their senior year. Of note: USC and Oregon State have zero seniors. Which bodes better for the Beavers future than USC’s, probably.
As per usual, power rankings at the bottom. I replaced the player of the year rankings with senior rankings this week.
- At Arizona, T.J. McConnell has only played in Tucson for two seasons after starting off at Duquesne, but he feels like a four-year player. McConnell go down as one of the most beloved Wildcats in team history, I think, because of he’s a scrappy, enthusiastic, funny, undersized, hard-working guy who is probably a lot better than he ever should have been. I’ll excuse him for his Rondae Hollis-Jefferson-related Philly joke from Tuesday’s press conference. Also, Drew Mellon (so happy that I could bold his name), because of his hair. And Matt Korcheck, because of the sacrifice.
- At ASU, Shaquielle McKissic has been through more in his life than most people — he went to jail at 19 — and overcome it to become a productive college basketball player. There’s also Bo Barnes, Arizona killer, and Jonathan Gilling, a dead-eye shooter.
- At California, it feels like David Kravish has been around for like 50 years, but he’s been a solid contributor for four years, and one of Cal’s all-time leading shot-blockers. Dwight Tarwarter has always been a nice shooter.
- At Colorado, Askia Booker is wildly overconfident, but certainly fun to watch, and he’s been a major reason for the Buffs run to three straight NCAA Tournaments to start his career.
- At Oregon, Joseph Young came to the Ducks from Houston already established as a scorer, and continued the trend in Eugene. In large part thanks to him, the Ducks are likely an NCAA Tournament team. Jalil Abdul-Bassit has a long name, and long range as a shooter (see what I did there?).
- At Stanford, Chasson Randle is one of the most accomplished players in Cardinal history, and still has a shot to finish his four years as the school’s all-time leading scorer — he’s 144 points away. Stefen Nastic might be the conference’s most improved player, and Anthony Brown has developed into one of the Pac-12’s best wings and an NBA prospect.
- At UCLA, Norman Powell showed what four years with one program can do for you. He developed from a supporting character to the lead role through four years, and has always been fun to watch. He’ll make it to the NBA, too, I think. Here's an LA Times story about his last game.
- At Utah, Delon Wright became a whole lot better than maybe anyone expected coming from a junior college. He’s no longer just “Dorrell Wright’s brother”. He’s a college basketball stud, and the leader of the best-Pac-12-team-not-named-Arizona, a title typically held by UCLA. Dallin Bachynski has been a solid role player for the Utes.
- At Washington, Shawn Kemp Jr., maaaaaaybe never became as good as his father — nobody expected him to — but he showed steady improvement in four years. Mike Anderson has been decent for the Huskies in his two years in Seattle.
- At Washington State, DaVonte Lacy wins the Brock Motum Award for good player on a bad team that nobody talks about. For the last two years, he’s been one of the Pac-12’s best scorers. Dexter Kernich-Drew hasn’t done much for most his career, but recently he’s kind of randomly exploded. He scored 18 at Oregon, 27 against ASU, 20 against Arizona and 19 against USC. He averages 6.4 points per game.
Pac-12 Senior Power Rankings
(Special for this week, based on four years of production and success, not just this season. Note: McConnell, Wright aren’t quite as high because they’ve only spent two years in the Pac-12.)
- Chasson Randle, Stanford/1a. Drew Mellon’s Hair, Drew Mellon, Arizona
- Norman Powell, UCLA
- Askia Booker, Colorado
- T.J. McConnell, Arizona
- Delon Wright, Utah
- David Kravish, California
- Joseph Young, Oregon
- Anthony Brown, Stanford
- DaVonte Lacy, Washington State
- Jonathan Gilling, Arizona State
Just missed: Shaq McKissic, ASU; Stefen Nastic, Stanford
Pac-12 Power Rankings
- Oregon State
- Arizona State
- Washington State
Pac-12 schedule (all times MT)
- USC at UCLA, 7 p.m., ESPN2
- Oregon at Oregon State, 9 p.m., ESPNU
- California at Arizona, 7 p.m., ESPN
- Colorado at Washington, 7 p.m., FS1
- Stanford at ASU, 9 p.m., FS1
- Utah at Washington State, 9 p.m., ESPNU
- California at ASU, 12:30 p.m., Pac-12 Networks
- Stanford at Arizona, 2 p.m., CBS
- Utah at Washington, 2:30 p.m., Pac-12 Networks
- Colorado at Washington State, 4:30 p.m., Pac-12 Networks